There is no hiding the fact that Minnesota Twins starting pitcher Phil Hughes struggled last season, as he finished 2013 with a record of 4-14 with an ERA of 5.19. Even with that, the Twins inked Hughes to a 3-year, $24 million contract back in December to help bolster their rotation. At $8 million annually, the deal could end up being a steal for the Twins.
Hughes is enjoying his best Spring Training to date, having made three starts so far. In 8.2 innings, he has allowed seven hits and three runs while striking out seven. The Twins are looking to Hughes to be as good, or better than, he was in his best seasons with the New York Yankees if they have any hope competing in a competitive AL Central. Being away from the pomp and circumstance that comes with pitching in New York will only benefit him.
The expectations were extremely high on Hughes when the Yankees drafted him in the first round of the 2004 draft. After that, he moved through the minor leagues keeping in line with what the experts believed, reaching the MLB as a 20 year old back in 2007. Inconsistency and injuries forced the Yankees to move him to the bullpen in 2009, until 2010 when he was back in the rotation where he enjoyed some success.
Minnesota is hoping Hughes can be like A.J. Burnett or Javier Vasquez, who were pitchers who enjoyed more success after leaving the Yankees. He has his work cut out for him on a team that suffered a 96-loss season. If there is a knock on Hughes, it has to be the amount of home runs he gives up; pitching in Target Field should help those numbers out a bit.
The Twins can only hope that Hughes has the same success against AL Central opponents as he did while with the Yankees. Hughes is 16-11 with an ERA of 3.65 against that division, excluding the Twins.He owns a 2-1 record with an ERA of 2.11 in starts at Target Field. A 15-win season isn’t out of the realm of possibilities this season, although it is not likely.